Thursday, April 2, 2009

the "ER" finale

I saw only the final hour of the "ER" finale (curiosity got the better of me), but it was enough to shock me into the realization that the American cast had been substantially replaced by people with British accents. American TV has been succumbing to the Brit/Down Under invasion for a while, often with good results, but it does make one wonder whether the US has a stable of competent actors.

Many of the old, familiar cast members were in the finale: I saw Dr. Carter, who had way more than a cameo during that last hour. He seemed to have used his riches to open up a new hospital wing or care center, and was also showing Mark Greene's daughter-- now a budding med student-- around the ER, even coaching her on a procedure. Kerry Weaver (Dr. House's grouchy, gimpy prototype?) was in attendance, as was Dr. Carter's old mentor, Dr. Benton, and Dr. Benton's former squeeze, Dr. Corday. On-again, off-again Dr. Lewis also popped up. Some of the other familiar faces I saw included desk clerk Jerry, the nurses Chuny (who appears not to have aged at all) and... and... that other nurse who's been there since Season 1.

The series pilot began in medias res, and that's how they chose to end it-- with everyone hustling. Dr. Carter was the newbie back in 1994, barely able to stick a needle in a vein, so perhaps it's appropriate that he be on site as a "bookend" character. Not having watched the series in years, I have no idea whether Carter has been part of the cast the entire time, or was brought back for the finale. The answer is a Wikipedia search away, I'm sure.

As I mentioned before, "ER" has always been marked by its esprit de corps, and that's the uplifting note on which the finale ends: with the entire ER staff standing outside in the cold, waiting for the arrival of numerous casualties from a plant explosion. When people are in need, "ER's" characters drop everything and respond; they're there for you. While I couldn't really make heads or tails of the finale, I was glad to see the series end with that positive message.

UPDATE (April 4): Television Without Pity has an April 3 article that makes many points similar to what I said above.


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